API says federal land access heavily restricted

Much of the US government land technically available for exploration in the West is actually off limits to producers, the American Petroleum Institute told a key House panel Tuesday. API took exception to Mar. 15 testimony that the Natural Resources Defense Counsel gave a House Committee on Resources panel.


By the OGJ Online Staff


WASHINGTON, DC, Mar. 27�Much of the US government land technically available for exploration in the West is actually off limits to producers, the American Petroleum Institute told a key House panel Tuesday.

"Industry critics gloss over the reality that there are major obstacles to developing trillions of cubic feet of natural gas that lie beneath nearly half of all federal lands in Western states," API President Red Cavaney said in a Mar 27 letter to Rep. Barbara Cubin, (R-Wyo.), chair of a House Committee on Resources subcommittee on energy and mineral resources.

API took exception to Mar. 15 testimony that the Natural Resources Defense Counsel gave a House Committee on Resources panel.

Cavaney maintained that in many instances, lessees cannot get the permits needed to develop leases. In others, development is rendered uneconomic by unnecessarily restrictive operating stipulations, he said.

"Imagine leasing a car but being told you cannot use a starter motor or keys. Would you really pay to lease a car if it couldn't run?" he wrote. "Similarly, a lease that cannot be developed is a lease in name only."

When all restricted and off-limit lands are combined, Cavaney wrote, 38.7% of Bureau of Land Management lands is restricted or off-limits, affecting 62% of the natural gas under those lands. The National Petroleum Council has estimated that 137 tcf of natural gas lie beneath federal land in the Rockies that is either off limits or heavily restricted�48% of the natural gas resources on federal lands in the region, he added.

Cavaney also said that inadequate agency resources in many BLM offices often makes it difficult to get drilling permits, delaying viable projects.

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